Category Archives: Farm Economics

Drought Relief and Flooding in Texas and Oklahoma

What a difference a year makes. In Texas and Oklahoma, a year can almost put an end to the drought that has ravaged those states for years. One year ago, 90% of Texas was experiencing some level of drought, and exceptional drought covered approximately 25% of the state according to the US Drought Monitor. Oklahoma also experienced a similar turnaround. One year ago, some level of drought covered 94% of Oklahoma and exceptional drought covered 26.47% of the Sooner State. However, the rain deluge and the devastating floods that accompanied the rain have almost completely alleviated the drought conditions in both states. Continue reading

California’s Groundwater Legislation Wrap-up: The Potential Implications of this new “Ground-Breaking” Legislation

Just how bad has the drought gotten in California? A few interesting articles last week crossed the wires about how water thefts are happening in places where you would least expect it. In Poway, the Volunteer Fire Department allegedly stole 10,000 gallons of water from Poway fire hydrants to fill up dry tanks that a Fire Department Board of Directors’ friend owned. In Los Gatos, the police removed a pipeline that regulators say a nudist colony was illegally using to divert water from the protected Hendry’s Creek. Both of these stories show just how desperate citizens, businesses and farmers are getting for water supplies. However, as California fights through the worst drought in recent history, water supply will continue to face more restrictions as the state plans to adopt the newly-passed groundwater legislation that Governor Brown just signed. There is a lot of speculation as to how the new groundwater legislation will be implemented and what will happen to groundwater supplies before the groundwater sustainability plans go into effect in 2020. In this wrap-up piece, I will look at how the legislation will be implemented, and the potential implications this legislation has for end users going forward. Continue reading

How is the Drought Affecting California’s Water Rights?

Over the last few weeks, the Journal of Water has posted a few very interesting articles about the challenges to California’s water rights. In particular, local irrigation districts in Central California and the State Water Resources Control Board have gotten into arguments over whether the most senior water rights can be curtailed in a time of drought. According to a Modesto Bee article, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) may this month curtail more junior water rights from drawing water. The SWRCB argues that they need to take this measure in the midst of unprecedented drought to protect the most senior water rights holders. The irrigation districts and the water rights holders are concerned that this move will lead to water rights curtailments of even the most senior rights in the state. At this point in California, there is clearly not enough water to satisfy all of the claims to water in the state. Until Mother Nature provides us with more rain, we have to determine who should receive water, and how much. In this piece, I will address the issue of water rights law in the state and how this may play out if the severe drought continues. Continue reading

Why we all need to Care About Drought in the West

Last week, I wrote a post about how water politics helped to shape the primary elections in Nebraska. Nebraska, like many areas in the Western and Midwestern United States is facing a prolonged drought. The drought has an effect on everything from fracking policies to the prices that you pay in the grocery store. In today’s world, we are more inter-connected than ever – a change or a hiccup in one region or market can quickly have ripple effects in another area. We have to look no further than the housing crisis that led to the recession in 2008 for an example of this phenomenon. A crash in the US housing market caused much more global pain due to the incredible interconnectivity our modern financial systems have. The water industry and related fields such as agriculture and oil services are no different. Drought in one part of the world (namely the Western United States) can have a dramatic effect on policies and the prices of everything from groceries to oil. In this piece, I will focus on the drought in the Midwestern United States, and why we should care about its effects. Continue reading